Electrified production cuts all local CO2 emissions
Crisp, clear and often cold, the Arctic is one of the most pristine areas in the world, but also where the climate changes quicker than most places. Cargill’s northernmost factory is situated well north of the Arctic circle and has now taken major steps towards a completely CO2-free fish feed production.
Balsfjorden, one of Norway’s many fjords cuts into land for about 50 kilometers southward from the country’s largest arctic city, Tromsø. Situated in the innermost part of the fjord is Cargill Bergneset, where natural gas now has been replaced with electricity to power operations.
After several weeks of test runs, it is now confirmed that the new equipment works as planned, and this marks completion of a 3 year, 80 million NOK project to reduce the environmental footprint of fish feed production.
The project entails the world’s largest counterflow drier with 15 drying decks, 2 heat exchangers recover a significant part of the heat used in the drying process, and 4 large high temperature heat pumps
The result is a 75 % reduction in energy consumption for this production line. And all CO2 emissions have been cut. The only elements that keep this from being completely CO2 free, are certification of the electricity and some back up systems still running on natural gas.
Important step to reduce footprint
“When the feed accounts for between 75 and 90 percent of the CO2 emissions in the aquaculture industry, it is important for the entire industry to reduce the footprint in feed production. This project worth NOK 80 million would have been difficult to realize without a solid return on sustainability. I am very pleased that the project now is completed and works as planned”, says MD Fredrik Witte of Cargill Aqua Nutrition North Sea.
The energy consumption at the factory on Bergneset has been reduced by 15 million kWh per year CO2 emissions have been reduced by 3,000 tonnes of CO2 eq per year.
The project qualified for NOK 33 million – about 40 % of the total cost – from Enova, the Norwegian government’s agency supporting innovative initiatives aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses.
Former Major of Balsfjord municipality, Ole-Johan Rødvei (left), and Fredrik Witte (right), CEO of Cargill's aqua nutrition business in the North Sea region, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony at the Bergneset factory on June 15th.
New best practice
“There is every reason to congratulate Cargill on the new fish feed factory. The technology used will be able to establish a new best practice for energy-efficient drying of salmon feed and the climate benefit is great. In that sense, an excellent project”, says senior adviser Boy Kåre Kristoffersen at Enova.
During the three-year project period, dozens of experts from several countries have come to the Cargill Group's northernmost factory not only to fit advanced systems, but also to make sure that they work well together.
The new feed dryer was installed in 2020 and was prepared for the addition of heat pumps. The switch from natural gas to electricity took place in April this year. Pipes that transport hot water run between energy recovery heat exchangers behind the dryer to the four heat pumps located in a newly constructed building next door and back to heat exchangers in the dryer
Much of the work in this project was done during Covid. In the middle of it all has been project manager Jan Helge Førde, Capital Excellence Lead in Plant Operations.
“When this project was delivered on time and with better performance than expected, it is due to the good cooperation with the suppliers in the project organization. Now we have turned off all the gas burners and run the electric dryer on electricity since early April, and everything works as it should”, Førde says and appreciates the efforts and engagement from a competent local workforce at the factory.
A milestone project
One of the suppliers in the project is Geelen Counterflow in the Netherlands. They have delivered the new electric counterflow drier where the feed is transported up to the top and gradually dried while being dropped down through 15 decks. According to CEO Sander Geelen of the Dutch company, this is the world's largest electric dryer of its kind, and the project is a milestone for his company.
“Finally, we see the results of nearly 10 years of brainstorming, design, testing and engineering for Geelen Counterflow. We are sure that electrification of industrial heat is the smartest way to decarbonise the feed and food industry”, Geelen says, and continues:
“And it is therefore no coincidence that the first one running is in Norway, the country with the highest degree of electrification in transport and heat worldwide. The Cargill team quickly saw the potential and moved efficiently to install the dryer and all components for electrification, undeterred by the corona crisis. The facts that this is the biggest counterflow dryer in the world and that it is running above the polar circle, only make the result more convincing.“
- CO2 emissions reduced by 3,000 tonnes of CO2 eq / year.
- The energy consumption for this production line is reduced by 75 percent. (15 million kWh)
- The feed dryer from Geelen Counterflow is the world's largest vertical feed dryer of its kind (with 15 decks).
- In addition, there are four electric heat pumps that recover the heat from the feed drying.
- This is the first time such technology has been used in the feed industry.
- Cargill has also received technology from Danish Process Integration and Norsk Energi.
- Enova supported the project with NOK 33 million.
- What remains before the factory can call itself completely CO2-free is the purchase of green certificates for the electricicy, and some backup systems that use fossil fuels.
- Cargill’s factory at Bergneset is a cornerstone company in Balsfjord municipality, and employs mainly local labor from Balsfjord and the surrounding municipalities. The factory has 54 permanent employees and over 70 employees in the high season. This is the northernmost factory in the entire Cargill Group, which has 155,000 employees in 70 countries.
MD Fredrik Witte of Cargill's Aqua Nutrition North Sea business on stage at the opening event taking place at the heat pump hall inside the Bergneset factory (Foto: Kjartan Mæstad/Cargill)
Maintenance manager Even Nilsen (mid-img) gives tour of the Bergneset factory (Photo: Moloen Media)
The heat pumps in the new heat pump hall. Photo: Kjartan Mæstad/Cargill
Parts of the new drier with 15 vertical decks or floors. Photo: Moloen Media
Feed is gradually dried as it is dropped from one deck to another in the 15-deck vertical dryer. Photo: Moloen Media